LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Hundreds of caregivers at Keck Medical Center of USC launched a labor strike Wednesday to protest what their union calls conditions that “compromise patient care” and management plans to impose a one-year wage freeze.

The job action at the former USC University Hospital began at 6 a.m., when the strikers, many in scrubs or lab coats, started marching with picket signs.

National Union of Healthcare spokesman Leighton Woodhouse said the picketing is scheduled to end at 6 p.m.

The strikers include a wide range of workers, including respiratory care practitioners, radiology technologists, surgical technicians, housekeepers and others, the union said.

Among the grievances listed by the union: the hospital is “dangerously short-staffed” and could be putting patients at risk.

“We are not able to provide quality care because of the short-staffing,” said respiratory therapist Allen Revago. “Instead of spending our time giving good care, what the patient needs, we’re taken out from that particular care because we have to go check on other patients.”

The union also complained that management has proposed a one-year freeze on hospital workers even though USC holds a $2.9 billion endowment and the hospital, according to the statement, generated $3 million in profits in the last quarter.

“While we are unable to discuss the specifics of our proposal publicly, we can say that our NUHW employees are among the highest-paid in the region,” said hospital spokesman Mitch Treem.

A hearing on the union’s complaints has been set for Oct. 24.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

Comments (6)
  1. Herbert says:

    USC has been dangerously understaffed by its choice of physicians for at least 10 years. Nice looking buildings but physicians without any experience running the facility never made any sense to me–saves on operating expenses though.

  2. trouble in paradise says:

    let’s all strike and no one work anymore. Let’s see what happens then to the economy

  3. Duh! says:

    Keck Medical Center of USC
    Another hospital where the workers care more about themselves than their patients.

    Putting this place on the Avoid At All Costs list.

    1. HealthCareOnlyForThe1% says:

      I’m glad that when your patient loads double, you feel you get adequate care. Tell that to the patient that received a kidney by mistake this past febuary.

  4. me says:

    I wonder if ‘hospital spokesman Mitch Treem’ is related to Hospital CEO Mitch Creem, Probably cousins. Great Reporting.

  5. USCsHostileTakeOverOfSouthLA says:

    USC has only owned this hospital for a little over 2yrs, and in that time has managed to upset the whole staff who had an informational pickett early this year with the nurses and now a strike involving all other departments. Wake up USC. And the reason Mr. Creem cannot discuss the specifics of the hospitals proposals is because he knows how bad they are. To be expected from a place that sells the hospital name to Keck for 150 million.

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